Narrator: Kate Rudd
Series: Stream Raiders #1
Published by Balzer + Bray
Published on 7 August 2018
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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A thrilling new fantasy series—full of deadly magic, double crosses, and a dangerous quest in a new world—from Sara Raasch, the New York Times bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes series.
Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Agrid, a country ruled by religion.
But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something dangerous is at work.
Devereux is a pirate. As one of the stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he scavenges the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.
Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.
As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook.
Sara Raasch has a very competent writing style, and this book hit everything I love about fantasy.
- A unique magic system: this one based on botanicals: that’s right, the plants are magic!
- A brave, strong, selfless heroine
- A handsome rogue of indeterminate sexuality who is not overtly romantically attracted to the heroine
- Lack of sexism.
- Villains driven by incredibly human and realistic desires.
It also had a cute kid!
Personally I prefer first person point of view, but not only can I see that third person point of view worked much better for this book, but I was never confused about whose POV we were viewing things from. Raasch made sure to name the protagonist in the opening sentence or each POV change, which made it super easy to switch. I also liked how the POV worked in the end by bringing the protagonists together, and then seeing each characters from the other’s POV. It was really cool.
There was also a massive twist that I just did not see coming. I don’t know if there was any foreshadowing that I just completely missed, or if it’s because of the limited POV used, but whatever it was, the twist worked well, and I was completely surprised by it.
Each character had their own strengths and weaknesses, and I loved watching the story and the mysteries unfolding as I travelled further into the narrative. I really liked that the focus was on politics and religion, and the manipulation of both, rather than magical powers. Since it was the plants that were magic, it left the characters to be awful to each other without their own magic.
The worldbuilding was super cool as well. I felt like I was part of Grace Loray, and I’m really interested to know why the plants that grow there are the only magical ones in the world. It’s not spelled out, but to me this is the reason why Argrid finds Grace Loray so threatening and wants to ‘destroy’ (control) the magical plants. Because they’re not native to his own country.
The writing could get a little flowery at times, but I was listening to the audiobook, and the narrator did a great job of reading the story and also changing her voice for different characters.
I personally didn’t see a real romance develop between what I guess others might call the ‘main couple’. To me it was more of this intense friendship built on shared experiences, past traumas, current shenanigans and needing to learn to trust each other. I felt a very strong loyalty between them, but that was mostly based in the inherent honour of the characters, not – to me – because they were falling in love. Were they? I don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to romance developing in the sequel. There was a certain level of attraction between the two, but to me it never quite crossed a line into romance. I actually quite liked it! Not everything needs to be a romance.
Having checked out some other reviews before I posted mine, I can see there was some kind of expectation of gay pirates in this book. I’m really good at avoiding hyped stuff, so I completely missed the memo on that. I don’t think it was the publishers who would have ever promoted this as ‘gay pirates’ because there is no M/M relationship between pirates. Pirates are called raiders and there is a M/M relationship, but it’s not a raider one. It’s a shame this somehow got twisted into ‘gay pirates’. I didn’t go into this expecting gay pirates therefore I was not disappointed by the lack of gay pirates.
I’m really looking forward to the sequel.